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We often showcase wedding photographer Rima Darwash’s sumptuous range of bespoke MOO Business Cards at trade shows as excellent examples of their type. Vibrant, moving and full of soul, her images reflect the passion and flair she has for her work and, when it comes to promoting her business, her cards speak volumes. We thought it was about time we talked to the woman behind the camera to find out a bit more about her inspiration, her passion for photography and building up a business from scratch. We also wanted to get some sneaky tips on how she uses MOO to promote her business…

Describing her work as her “true calling”, Rima’s first break into the world of wedding photography came about thanks to a little help from her friends…:

“I've always been creative. After finishing my BA in Graphic Design I thought the corporate path would be for me. Taking a year off after graduating, I then found it difficult to find a job. I had the skills but no experience, so I thought I'd create a job for myself! To cut a very long story short, I had a friend who was getting married and randomly asked me one day ‘Will you do my wedding pictures for me?’”

From this simple starting point, work started to snowball and thanks to Rima’s talent, determination and undeniable passion, Occasion Photography was born. Setting up your own business is something Rima recommends for anyone with a clear idea of what they want to do and why:

“The motivation [for me] came because of the positive responses I received from clients, family and friends. I’m extremely passionate about what I do and it was humbling to find people will gravitate to that. If you have a passion for something, go for it… It's always such a buzz when I get a booking! I love meeting new people and the best thing is I get to capture them at their best. After a long, 10-hour shoot, I get back home and still get so excited about all the fantastic images I've captured that I have to upload them straight away onto my laptop.”

Like many freelancers, Rima would love her own studio but works from home because it makes sense both financially and practically. Working alone, networking with other like-minded professionals plays an important role in inspiring her; helping her keep in touch with fellow freelancers, expand her business and contacts, whilst also keeping her up-to-date with wider developments:

“I'm a one man (or woman) band! I have networked with lots of other brilliant photographers and when the situation arises I may second shoot for them or vice versa… Last year I attended The Enterprise Show; this was a great resource as it put me into contact with lots of professionals who have given me a great deal of help and advice. Outside of wedding photography, I really enjoy shooting models for fashion magazines and editorials. I find that I'm incorporating the fashion elements more and more with my brides. My inspiration comes from a mix of fashion magazine spreads, insanely talented photographers and business entrepreneurs, all of which motivates me to push my boundaries.”

An advocate of contemporary reportage, Rima works hard to put her subjects at ease and often finds that it’s the seconds after a couple have posed for a shot when their true characters fall into place. When asked to describe one of her favourite shoots you get the strong sense that it’s the telling of a – rather moving – story, while hidden away on the sidelines, that she finds so absorbing:

“I did an engagement shoot over the Christmas period last year at a German market. The couple were very camera shy, so I told them I would stand back and document the images as they walked around. The results were very natural shots of the couple in their element. It was shot around the city at night, the intimacy between the two juxtaposed with the bright lights, old buildings and people passing by gave the images such a magical feel.”

Faithful to her tagline “Yorkshire and beyond…” there’s clearly a strong multi-cultural influence present in Rima’s work that transports her subjects beyond their immediate environment. We particularly love the vibrant use of colour in her coverage of Asian and Arabic weddings and wondered if she finds that these offer more creative opportunities than traditional Western weddings:

“Being an Arabian female photographer can have its advantages. I get the best of both worlds! The creative opportunities are more obvious with, say, an Indian wedding because of all the traditional rituals they involve. What I've come to realise is a good photographer will use their artistic vision to capture any scene; something which I'm learning shoot upon shoot.”

When it comes to promoting her business, Rima recommends the personal approach:

“Without doubt, word of mouth referrals have been the best way to generate new clients. I quickly learned that having a shiny ad in a glossy magazine was never going to bring in the enquires. I've realised in my line of business people want to hire 'you' they don't just want see a pretty picture, but want to take comfort that they are not just hiring a stranger but someone that can make them feel at ease. Having HYPERLINK "http://www.occasionphotography.co.uk/blog" my blog up there for the world to see has been great for people to get a sense of who I am and what I’m about.”

Referring to them as her “pocket portfolio”, the range of business cards Rima’s created using MOO work alongside her personal approach to self-promotion. Being able to choose a number of different images, rather than just one, means that the rich fabric and diversity of Rima’s work is fully showcased in an accessible and practical way. And, because it’s so easy to do, she adds new images every time she orders a new batch from us so her cards are always current. They do have one downside, however … she likes them so much she wants to keep hold of them!

“I found MOO cards incredibly unique. I was struggling to narrow it down to just one image to put on my business cards – MOO made it easy, I could use as many images as I like. I now have a pocket portfolio wherever I go. My one problem is that I hate giving them away! I get such an amazing reaction when I show them to people, as each card is different they always want more than one! Every time I order a new batch I just add more new images on the front of the cards. That way my business cards are always current.”

With a creative’s eye for detail, Rima notes that it’s the little things that make the difference when it comes to weddings and also in the cut-throat world of business. Keen to keep things fresh and fun, she likes the idea of using our stickers as a unique accessory to her existing business stationery and has seen, first-hand, the powerful effect MOO’s personalised wedding invites and favours can have in transforming a fairly generic wedding into a truly personalised one.

Occasion Photography also received an unexpected boost when a MOO client decided to use one of Rima’s photographs on her thank you cards after her wedding (something she described to us as a “great way of reaching out to potential clients”).

While building up a business is, undoubtedly, important, there’s much more to wedding photography than making money and that’s the ability to make memories. This is something which became apparent to Rima after one particular shoot:

“I had a client last year who didn't have a whole lot of money to spend on her wedding. Her brother had passed away the year before, and her mother was terminally ill. I had a call from the bride later on in the year to thank me for the pictures of her and her mum, who had passed away not long after the wedding. It really brings home the importance of what I do, and that's something that sticks in my mind often.”

From making memories to making plans for the future, Rima - like most newlywed couples - reminds us that she’s “just getting started” so keep an eye on her blog to see where life takes her next.

Thanks for letting us zoom in on your work, Rima!

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September 2010


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